Residents of Virginia and thrill-seekers from all over have been anxiously awaiting the opening day of The Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel, set to open in late fall of 2020. The tunnel itself was once part of a historic railroad built during the 1850s, before the invention of dynamite. That means the entire 2.25-mile-long tunnel was dug out with manpower alone. The walking/biking trip through the tunnel is about a mile long.
The tunnel itself will be part of a greenway system connecting three counties. Hikers, bikers, railroad enthusiasts, and history buffs will be amazed at the trailway through the restored tunnel. Visitors from all over the country can jog, walk, or bike while admiring the raw, exposed rock, brick walls and ceiling. There’s another surprising twist to this attraction- those who enter must bring flashlights and headlamps. Be brave- the tunnel isn’t lit! What’s more, there are plenty of activities and interesting places to visit nearby; you can pack a whole day full of fun experiences before or after visiting the tunnel.
If you are thinking of adding a hands-on experience to add your child’s online learning, or you’re just a history buff yourself, visit Augusta County’s former manufacturing boomtown, Basic City. Basic City was formed in 1890, and it was named after the process of basic oxygen steelmaking. Basic City once dwarfed Waynesboro in size! In 1924, Basic City consolidated with Waynesboro. Today Basic City is named as one of the “Lost Towns” of Virginia. For a more in-depth visit, check out Basic City Beer Company, which is set up in the former Virginia Metalcrafters complex. The high ceilings and reclaimed wood and pipe taproom tables honor history, and if you want to bring Fido, it’s no problem- dogs are allowed!
Pack up the family and head over to Tree Street Historic District to observe architectural history. The 120-acre historic district is aptly named- the district contains Walnut, Oak, Maple, Cherry, and Chestnut avenues. The district includes the oldest residential neighborhood in Waynesboro as well. The oldest structure in Tree Street Historic District is the Old Stone House on Oak Avenue, which overlooks the South River. Rose Cliff is another historic property, which is listed separately on the Register of Historic places.
Travel to Nelson County to Critzer Family Farm next. This 5th-generation farm provides county residents and visitors alike with fresh produce. They are open from April to October and offer seasonal fruits and vegetables, plants, and hand-churned ice cream. While in the area, visit one of Nelson’s picturesque wineries. Cardinal Point Winery is near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive and created high-quality, creative wines. Another wonderful winery is 12 Ridges Vineyard, which offers 360-degree views and sparkling, cool-climate wines. 12 Ridges is a beautiful place to hold special events as well. In fact, if you have an upcoming wedding or special celebration, check out Nelson County’s unique and beautiful event venues.
Nelson County has many craft breweries to visit as well. Brewing Tree Beer Company offers craft brews and fun activities such as axe throwing contests, and Devils Backbone Brewery treats patrons to a dynamic dining experience. For those who want to camp, Devils Backbone offers a campsite as well, with both RV hookup sites and primitive sites available.
For more information on fun places to visit on both sides of the Blue Ridge, call Nelson County Tourism at 434-263-7015.